TL;DR: Google’s PageSpeed platform now provides a separate UX score for desktop.
Since mobile-first indexing was launched in 2019 - we have been marginalizing the PageSpeed’s desktop tab’s importance as a maintenance tool and focused on the mobile performance.
However, Google is rolling out an update to the platform in February which features an independent page-experience audit for desktop UX:
The feature is more crucial for sites serving different URLs for different devices (which Airfleet doesn’t do, as it is an overall inferior solution to responsive design) because the desktop URLs were not addressed by previous versions of the platform. But it is also an efficient tool for reviewing the quality of live pages in views from both main device categories, enhancing the QA arsenal available for webmasters, developers, designers & marketers.
A quick reminder about the individual audits comprising Google’s Page Experience ranking
Following are the factors Google uses, and their respective benchmarks for passing:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how long it takes for the main content of the page to be visible within the browser; the threshold for passing is under 2.5 seconds
- First Input Delay (FID) measures how long it takes for the page to become responsive to user actions; the threshold for passing is under 0.1 second
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures how stable are the individual components within a page through its rendering cycle; the threshold for passing is a CLS score of under 0.1
- HTTPS is a simple binary audit - using SSL is a pass, not using it is a fail
- No intrusive interstitials checks if there are pop-ups hiding the page’s content - having none is a pass while having them is a fail
Note: The Mobile Friendliness test has been sensibly removed from the desktop ranking
Tips to improve your Page Experience ranking
Consider the following practices for pages delivering good user experience:
- Run the PageSpeed test for every type of page in your site (including your homepage) and fix every failed audit common to more than 1 type
- Bear in mind that the PageSpeed platform uses caching from previous sessions to analyze a page’s score and therefore does not provide real-time feedback following a change to the page
- Make sure there is general 301-direct rule from http to https for every URL, including subdomains
- If your site fails the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) audit - add more dedicated view-sizes to your design and make sure that ads do not hide other elements on the page in any dimension
- If you are currently using entry popups - consider switching to exit popups, which tend to perform as well as the former and are less intrusive
- Don’t neglect mobile friendliness even if the majority of your traffic comes from desktop devices, since failing that audit will most likely have a negative effect on desktop Google Search rankings as well; run the mobile friendly test for every type of page in your site (including your homepage) and fix every failed audit
- Remember to create your pages for users and not for crawlers! This will keep your texts, design, layout & functionality enjoyable for a human being, which most real users are 😉